When God Feels No Longer Safe – Job 9:16-18

“If I summoned [God] and he answered me,
I would not believe that he was listening to my voice.
For he crushes me with a tempest
and multiplies my wounds without cause;
he will not let me get my breath,
but fills me with bitterness.”

Job 9:16-18

This cry resonates with sad familiarity in my heart…It was not long ago that these words could have been my own. Because while my mind knew verses of God’s compassion, my heart just didn’t believe it true for me.

How sorrowful I became when I realized this. When I saw fully how much I doubted His compassion. All those thoughts that I didn’t even know were there came pouring out of my heart. Because how could He really care, and yet let things play out the way that they did?

Thus began the struggle. The struggle of deciding whether or not to trust Him again. Do I let Him close…and does He deserve that closeness? I was hurt. And I was angry. And His compassion just didn’t seem evident.

That’s what happens when our circumstances overwhelm our heart…when waves crash, and in response to the pain, we shut down and shut Him out. The One who is supposed to be our refuge in the storm. The One who had been my refuge in the past. I retreat when I’m in pain, withdrawing to a safe place, and God was no longer welcome there. Because, in my view, He was no longer safe.

Oh believer, if your heart connects with this, I pray you will know that you are loved. Because you are. Without reserve, without hesitation, and without question. I don’t know why things happen the way they do, but God grieves with you. He is not unfeeling. He hurts with you. He “rides through the heavens to your help” (Deuteronomy 33:26). His compassion toward you is strong and unending. He will uphold you in steadfast love. Please, oh please let Him. He is listening to you. He is drawing near to answer in faithfulness, to show you the good Father that He is.

Allowing God near isn’t an exercise in logic. Our hearts don’t work that way. He understands that – He understands your questions, your fears, your anger, your pain. So tell Him all of that. Rail at Him if you must. I did. That’s where the conversation begins. And I pray that then, however slowly, you will begin to lower your walls. Those walls you built to keep Him out.

What I found is that He is wonderfully gentle and compassionate in His love toward us, and He will not force Himself through. He is waiting, patiently, for you to let Him in. So He can begin to heal those hurts. So that you won’t feel so alone. And so you can see good come from all that pain. He won’t waste it. And He is not distant from you. He is as close as a breath, ready to pour out peace, comfort, and strength for your days.

“As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.”

Psalm 103:13-14

“a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench”

Isaiah 42:3a

“But Zion said, ‘The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.’
‘Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands’”

Isaiah 49:14-16a

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